Being accused of lying can have as much impact as a physical blow to the body, especially when the accusation is false. Although your first inclination after the accusation may be to be aggressive in defending your good name, being assertive instead is a better approach. Similarly, avoiding confrontation with the individual who accuses you of lying can leave you feeling frustrated, particularly because the underlying inaccuracy remains active. Not saying anything and hoping the accusation will simply go away usually has the opposite effect and can lead to additional accusations.
Evaluate the accusation with an objective eye. Don’t assume the reasons why the other person is accusing you of being a liar, but consider the possibilities. Consider if the other person is feeling slighted by you, by something you’ve said or your role at work or in the family. Ask other people who know you and the person making the accusations about their perspectives on the accusation. You may not recognize something you’ve said or done that may have led to the accusation. This allows you to see a perspective that is less wrought with defensiveness.
Confront your accuser with an assertive stance. Assertiveness, in contrast to aggressiveness, is a means of defending your point of view without trespassing on the perspective of another person. It’s a way of agreeing to disagree and levels the playing field to facilitate better communication. One of the primary ways to be more assertive is to preface your statements to your accuser with the pronoun “I.” Instead of saying, “You’re accusing me of lying,” an assertive statement would sound more like, “I don’t agree with your accusation that I am a liar.” Assertiveness places you in a position for negotiation and better understanding and is less likely to place your accuser in a defensive position.
Ask questions of your accuser to identify the reasons why he believes you are a liar. Open-ended questions such as, “How did you come to the conclusion that I lied?” can give you a better idea of how your accuser came up with his belief. Accurate or not, it’s unlikely that a simple statement of disagreement will convince your accuser that you aren’t a liar. Asking questions to get the underlying story, however, will give you information that you can clarify to your accuser to make your case against the accusation. As difficult as it may seem when defending a false accusation, it’s important to remain diplomatic in discussing the issue.
Identify to your accuser what resolution or consequence you would like administered as a result of the accusation. You may never be able to convince the other person that you are not a liar, however, you do have the right to assert your point of view and request a negotiation of perspectives. For example, state, “I would appreciate it if you would ask me first, before accusing me of lying about making that phone call you requested.” This provides the recipient with a consequence for his accusations.
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- Remember that no one has the capacity to undermine the fact that you are not a liar. Your actions tend to speak louder than words, and it’s likely that other people recognize that you may not be the person who your accuser portrays as a liar.
Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.